Monthly Archives: December 2009

Could the Jets Make the Playoffs?

After starting the season winning their first three games, the Jets struggled to a 4-6 record. Recently, however, they have won two straight giving them a 6-6 record and putting them right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

Division

Right now the Jets are only a game behind the first place Patriots, but it might as well be two. The Jets have finished division play with two wins, while the Patriots already have three. Since these teams split the season series, the Patriots win the tiebreaker with those three wins. So even though the Jets have only one less win than the 7-5 Patriots, they need to do more than tie them to take the division. With four games left in the season, it does not appear the Jets have much hope to take the AFC East.

Wild Card

This route seems much more likely. Looking at the teams in the AFC, the ones that look like they are competing with the Jets for the two spots are: The Dolphins, Ravens, Steelers, Jaguars, and Broncos. None of these teams have more than six losses, and only two of them have as many as six, with the Broncos having as little as four. Knowing this, it appears unlikely a 9-7 record will be good enough to make the playoffs, so the seven-loss Texans and Titans seem out of luck.

Returning our focus to the Jets, this means they have to win out their remaining four games. Those games are against the Bucs, Falcons, Colts and Bengals. The first two are winnable, while the last two are games against teams that might have their playoff spots rapped up. The Jets have done a nice job limiting Sanchez’s mistakes, and if they can continue to do that while getting production from their running game, a 10-6 record is not out of the question.

So to answer the question posed in the title of this article: yes, the Jets could make the playoffs. The point, however, is that it isn’t incredibly likely. As I mention earlier there are five other teams in the mix and i think more than two of them are more likely to make the playoffs than the Jets, with the Jets needing some luck just to go 10-6.

Ranking the six teams in order of likeliness to make the playoffs: Broncos, Ravens, Jaguars, Jets, Steelers, Dolphins. The Broncos would need to lose three of their next four for them to miss the playoffs, something I don’t see happening. After tonight the Ravens only have one other tough games, against a Steelers team that has lost four straight, including one to the Ravens. I give the Jags the nod over the Jets because they own the tiebreaker due to their head to head win, so they’d have to drop two of the next four, with the Jets winning out.

In the end there is hope for the Jets, but so much would have to go right that is seems more likely they finish 9-7 or 8-8 and miss the playoffs.

What Has Happened to the Giants?

With roughly the same team last season, big blue went 12-4 with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This season looked to have similar results as the Giants jumped out to a 5-0 start; however, they are 1-5 in their last six games. What has happened to this team that is only two years removed from winning a Superbowl?

Offense

Offensive Line: Despite what analysts have been saying about the Giants offensive line, the unit has never been the best in the league. Outside of Chris Snee there is no dominant member of this unit, and while they work well together, they are rarely overpowering. To make matters worse this unit has taken a step back this season. Whether it is due to old age or some injuries we do not know about, this unit has made too many mistakes.

Injuries at RB: Last season Derrick Ward was the change of pace back, but he departed in free agency. Stepping in his place was Ahmad Bradshaw, who picked up the load nicely. The problem is he recently sustained a pretty severe injury for a running back and this has caused the Giants to lose that change of pace to Jacobs.

No More Plaxico Burress: It might not seem like this is a big problem because the Giants passing game has been pretty good so far this season. The problem is while the receivers have performed well, none of them are true number one threats. Burress had such an advantage over defensive backs that teams had to keep safeties back in coverage to make sure he didn’t burn them. Despite the Giants best efforts they have not been able to burn defenses when they overplay the run. This has led defense to keep extra men in the box, another factor hurting the running game.

Injury to Eli Manning: This might not be the whole reason, but after news of Eli’s injury his play dropped significantly. With the lack of production out of the running game, the Giants needed Manning to step up and carry the offense much like his older brother has done this season. Not that he has played poorly, but outside of the Falcon game he was unable to do this. Outside that falcon game the Giants only scored over 20 points once since the injury and that was in a blow-out against the Saints.

Defense

Front Four: Fred Robbins who was a force in the first half of 2008 has done very little except receive encroachment penalties this season. Cofield and Bernard have not faired much better, and Canty is just getting back from injury. Osi has not been the force many expected and Tuck seems to be really hindered by his injury. I truly believe Kiwanuka has been our best pass rusher but that has not been enough to get a consistent pass rush.

Injury to Kenny Phillips: The Giants were not prepared to deal with this loss. Michael Johnson is an average safety at best, whose deficiencies were hidden in Spagnoulo’s scheme. Also as we have seen C.C. Brown is not a starting safety in this league. Last year the Giants had a much improved James Butler and Phillips in nickel situations, now they have Johnson and Rouse, a player picked up on waivers, making safety a weakness for the Giants. Unlike Spagnoulo, Sheridan has not shown an ability to hide the weaknesses on the defense, and it has hurt the team from covering the middle of the field in the redzone, and from limiting the big play.

Linebackers: They were a big weakness last season but Spags got them attacking a lot last season, filling up the holes in the running game. Like stated early Sheridan has had a problem hiding the defenses problems.

Play against the run: With the problems at defensive tackle, teams have little problem running up the middle to get the tough yards on the Giants. On runs to the outside the Giants have done a horrible job sealing the edge. With the ability to run to the side and up the middle teams have been able to run all over the Giants. The play of the corners has been pretty good, but with pass rush issues and poor run defense their job has been very difficult.

Bill Sheridan: More a leftover from Tim Lewis than Spags Protege, Sheridan has shown a poor command of the defense. This guy really seems clueless out there, as I have never seen a guy consistently out coached like this guy has. If the Giants wise up and let this guy go I am not certain he will get any job in the NFL. It is not like he made any linebackers better while he was the linebackers coach. He just does not have a good feel for the game or his personnel. He never calls a blitz at the right time, sending extra men against max coverage way too many times. He makes coverage mistakes, like putting Canty on tight ends, and Boley on receivers. More importantly his players seem confused out there, missing way too many assignments.

Overview

Offensively the Giants were a very good running team. With the loss of Burress teams have not been afraid to overplay the run. Combining this with the loss of Ward, the injury to Bradshaw, and the diminished play of the line and the Giants have not had the most effective ground attack. This puts more of the offense on Manning and for whatever reason, he has not been able to answer the call.

Defensively the Giants have not played well against the run, allowing struggling teams to keep drives going fairly easily. The pass rush has not been good enough to slow teams down, especially in big situations. When teams get into the redzone they can run the ball and have easy targets in the middle of the field. The problems are not extremely severe but Sheridan has trouble coaching during the game allowing teams to score in big situations.

The season is not over for the Giants as a few changes could really improve the team. The playoffs are not out of the question, but they have to start winning games.

Later I will post ways for the Giants to improve

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